Title: Visible Friend
Author: K.Z. Snow
Cover Artist: Anne Cain
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Buy Link: Amazon:
Length: Novella/160 PDF pages
Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5
Review Summary: Chris’s journey to sobriety was tough but Denny made it worthwhile.
Christopher Borgasian has spent the last seven months painstakingly breaking up with a lover he’s adored for three years: heroin. Now he’s trying to make it on his own—without the drugs, without the family that rejected him for being gay, and, seemingly, without a friend in the world.
The night before Chris leaves a sober-living facility to pursue his uncertain future, a stranger named Denny shows up in his room. From then on, Denny returns whenever Chris needs him the most, always vanishing as mysteriously as he appears. Chris desperately needs emotional and physical intimacy, but who is Denny, really? And can Chris believe in him when it also means believing in unconditional love?
Visible Friend is the story of Chris and the drug that held him hostage – heroin, and his best friend Denny who came into his life when he most needed him. Chris had used drugs since his teens when his parents rejected him on account of his sexual orientation after he came out in junior high. He started with marijuana, ecstasy and anything else he could get his hands on until he graduated to heroin and became an intravenous drug user for 3 years. After he hit bottom he decided to enter detox and rehab in order to kick the habit. On his last night at the sober living center he woke up from a deep sleep and saw a man in his room who he didn’t recognize, even though the man told him that his name was Denny which had a familiar ring. Denny tried to give him a present of plum blossoms but Chris was so freaked out he raised the alarm, but by the time some of the other residents arrived the man had disappeared without a trace except for a plum blossom on his bed.
Visible Friend is told from Chris’s third person POV and Denny’s 1st person POV and they worked well in the context of the story. The first part of the book where Chris is shooting up with his friend Winston is pretty graphic, however, except for one other scene the book is mostly about Chris trying to live in the normal world where drugs play no part in his life, but he soon discovered that there’s a hierarchy even with people who are recovering addicts — they too hated gays. At his first FAR meeting he met a man, Troy, to whom he was immediately attracted but he got his signals crossed and was summarily rejected by Troy. When he told the attendees at another FAR meeting that he was gay, many of them weren’t welcoming either.
After his first meeting Chris was so depressed he called his old druggie friend Winston who came with all his drug paraphernalia and Chris was desperate enough he was tempted to shoot up, but just as he was about to Denny showed up again and Chris realized he was not a figment of his imagination but a real person. But was he real even though he could touch him? After he sent Winston away Chris remembered his imaginary friend Denny who had come into his life in response to his prayer for a special friend, and they were inseparable until Chris drove him away. Denny and Chris had met when Chris was 4 years old and as Chris grew older so did Denny but no one else could see Denny. When Chris started using drugs Denny seemed to disappear from his life except for very occasional visits, but very soon after he started living on his own Denny re-appeared. However Chris didn’t recognize the 24 year old man who showed up in his apartment and told him to leave. Was the adult Denny the same person he knew as a child? If he wasn’t how did he know so much about Chris’s past? If he was his friend from childhood and he let him back into his life how would he fit in?
This is a very poignant story of a man trying to recover from a drug habit of 9 years, who was also dealing with having no sexual outlet and no friends since there weren’t many gay men in Cold Harbor where he lived. His life was barren, his emotions were fragile and he was always one step away from giving in to the drugs again, as we experience the temptations that he has to overcome. Recovery from any addiction is a daily process and Chris lived his life one day at a time since he could only cope with so much. K.Z. Snow tackles subjects that not many M/M authors explore because they expose the seedy underbelly of life that few of us want to experience, even if it’s only in a book.
Chris’s character is vulnerable and needy and at times it seemed that he had lost his sense of direction and focus. But the track marks were a constant reminder that he was an addict and would remain so for the rest of his life and one slip would put him back where he didn’t want to be, on the streets. Denny is probably one of the most innocent characters I have experienced in a while and both he and Chris grew a lot in the short space of time that the story covered. Chris had to come to terms with his feelings for Denny when it seemed that he could lose him, and Denny became a real person by changing his role in Chris’s life as he evolved and the power shifted between them and he took control of his life. The sex between them was wonderful and just right and was another brick in the wall for both characters. The paranormal aspect to the story was inspired and I fell completely under Denny’s spell and wished that he had a much bigger role. Chris’s journey, like those of other addicts, would be a lifelong one but I felt that with Denny in his life he would never regress.
Visible Friend was a good story but the epilogue made it wonderful.